Archive for the christianity Category

A little of the past three weeks…

Posted in christianity, community, Foy Vance, friends, Queens, rain with tags , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2009 by Phil Alcorn

Three weeks ago, my friend was found dead in his living room. He was found by other friends of mine.

It was Valentines day. I had been out in Carrickfergus helping at an International Students event when I got the message. Standing outside the gates of Carrickfergus castle, I got the message that would change a part of me forever. At 14:22:09 on Saturday 14th February 2009, the message came in.

“Phil. Cliff is Dead.”

I called right back, not wanting to believe it. The chill had already taken a hold of me, and part of me knew it was true. The friend who sent me that message does not joke about such awful things.

The next hour or two were a blur. I wanted, of how I wanted to leave… but I had come on a bus full of International students… there was no way to get back to Belfast until the trip was over. I walked around the castle on the tour, half in a daze. The weather reflected my feelings – grey and cold… a fewspittles of rain coming down, almost as if the clouds weren’t sure what it was they were trying to do.

I remember phoning my Dad… it was my Nana’s birthday, I was meant to be going home for a birthday dinner. I didn’t go home… I went to my friends house once I got back to Belfast. She had been there, she had been one of the ones to find him. I went to see how she was… other friends came round. It was an alien day…

Cliff was my friend. Our birthdays were on the same day… only two days after the day he was found. He was only two days off his 55th birthday.

Cliff taught me so many lessons about life. Lessons about how to love, how to care… how to look out for others, how to laugh in spite of a situation… he shared my musical tastes, he taught me about humility and gentleness, he showed me that everyone has a story, and that everyone, EVERYONE, has worth. Cliff changed me. God used Cliff to change and guide me.

A good friend asked me a few days after that day how everything that had happened fit into my perception of hope. He said that my last serious blog post had been titled ‘Hope, still under examination‘. And it is, it is still under examination. Foy Vance sang a song called ‘Two shades of hope”, and in it he sings a line that I never really understood.

“Hope deals the hardest blows…”

It is the final track on an album titled ‘Hope’. At the time I heard it, I thought I had an idea what he was getting at… but it wasnt until the past few weeks when I think it has really hit home. There were so many things I hoped for, so many things I still hope for. I hoped that one day, Cliff would trust in God to save him. I hoped he would do his body a favour and lay off the drink and the fags. I had hoped to share our birthdays together in celebration, to sing elvis songs with him again loudly and badly. I had hoped he could come to church with me some day, and maybe even help me out in a talk for the youth. I hope that, one day, I will see him again in heaven. I hope that his family will be comforted during this time and the times to come. I hope Cliffs memory and his story will inspire those who knew him to be ever more loving and caring to those they meet, and will even inspire those who never met him.

And I think Foy is right. By itself, hope can deal the hardest blows. I can hope for these things, but during the initial stages after Cliffs death, I was struggling under the uncertainty of it all. I mean, the very definition of hope implies that the outcome is ultimately unknown. And I didn’t know how to face that… how to face the prospect that despite all my hopes, they may never come to fruition. I mean, some of them haven’t come to fruition. I never got to share my birthday party with Cliff. I never got to sing Elvis with him again. He never did give up on the booze or the fags…

But is this where I have made my mistake? In focusing on hope, have I lost focus on the other two remaining graces? Faith, and love? If I had true love, would I not have made more of an effort to do everything in my power to reunite Cliff with his maker? If I had true love, would I not understand that God’s decisions are perfectly just, and that events that happen on this earth will be used in perfect love to help us grow, learn, and come closer to our Father? If I had true faith, would I not be able to hope without the need for clarification, without the need for certainty?

Even things like the news last night, that an attack was made on an army base in Antrim, resulting in the death of 2 soldiers and serious injury of others including civilians. The real IRA have claimed responsibility, and the gunmen went so far as to fire at the downed victims even as they lay on the ground. Talking to friends, many of them are fearful that it will spark a return to the ‘old days’, that retaliation will spark retaliation and it will all become out of hand once more. Is the hope that our country could have peace enough?

God has been teaching me a lot recently. I believe He has more in store for our wee country than we expect. And I believe that whatever happens, God is not done with us yet. And after the past few weeks, I know that this hope is enough for me. This hope IS enough, because I know that despite the terrible things that go on around us, God is good. I have faith that although I never understand WHY things happen the way they happen, that God still loves us, and loves us perfectly. And so I will try and learn from His love. I will hold onto the lessons He is teaching me, and hold onto the lessons He used Cliff to teach me. And I will hold onto the hope that I will see my friend Cliff once more.

Cliff was a special friend. He grew up in a ‘church family’. He became a Christian as a younger man, and became heavily involved in his church. When I met him, he was living on the streets, was addicted to alcohol and ciggarettes, and never revealed to me that he had ever at any stage made any sort of committment to God. But this wee Belfast man taught me truths about love and care and humility, and even God, that I will never forget. I miss you, Cliff. And I love you. And I hope that one day, we will sing again together in the company of our Father. I will wait for that day, our Kid… have your best singing voice ready…

Advertisements

Hope, still under examination…

Posted in christianity, confused with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by Phil Alcorn

I’m never really sure how to start. I’m almost certain I have said this before, most likely many times. However, I’m also tired enough right now that I’m not going to bother going back to check. But it is true, I’m never really sure how to start off one of these blog posts…

Billy Connelly has the same problem, seemingly. He says the middle of the show is fine, whatever happens happens, but the start… the start is much harder to work out. Dylan Moran is the same, to name one of my absolute favourite comedians… within the first four minutes of his quite epic stand up show ‘Monster’, he tells us that he never really spends a great deal of time on ‘hello’. It’s one of those portals of conversation, he says, that people get very freaked out about… because you can use ‘hello’, and then you’re on your own. You have started something, you have engaged in dialogue in some way with another person, and you are now expected to make their attention worthwhile…

But alas, I am becoming side-tracked… although I am rather glad that I have now succesfully, with the aid of that little anecdote, managed to begin this post. We are now past the start… the pressure has lifted a little…

Now, looking back, it is now approaching four months since I last posted anything on this blog of mine. In that time, I have written two drafts which have gone unpublished. In the seven months PRIOR to my last post, I made a measly ten posts (if memory serves me correctly). I also believe that it was within that seven month period, although I could be wrong, that I undertook a slight blog redesign, giving it the title ‘Hope’ and changing the general layout. ‘Chasing the light’, looking back, actually held deeper meaning for me at that time (and still does) than I think I realised even then… even the site redesign of a much darker background and a picture of lights in the night seem to resemble the journey I was embarking on, a journey through dispair and pain, a journey chasing after the light in the distance…

I am aware that sounds perhaps a little overdramatic… but when I think about it, where I have come over the past year, where I have visited on this journet, I have been to some pretty dark places… places within myself, where at times I very nearly lost hope. I’m not saying that what I went through was more serious than any of the struggles faced by any amount of people on a daily basis… I am well aware that there or people out there who have dealt with and daily deal with problems far greater than were I have been… but still, suffering is all too real for the one experiencing it…
And some of you reading this may have noticed this in me when we interacted in the non-cyber world in the past year… and again, some of you may not. But hopehope has been an idea that has been driving me for a long time now. Even in the times when I feel like I nearly lost it, it was still shining its light for me to follow, to chase, to pursue…

This post is not about what happened to me over the course of a year. It’s amazing just how much can happen in just one year… things have happened in the the past 12 months that have been absolutely awe-inspiring, total high times… and there have been things that have been pretty low. And throughout everything, throughout the times of light and the times of dark, the shining hope has never gone away. Sometimes I wandered away from it, and it took other people to point me back in the right direction… some people have done that for me more times than they can know… almost like they were my ‘spiritual sat-nav’, though I doubt I have ever truely told them just how much they have meant to me…

That kinda got away from me a bit… but I will leave it in. Some things never change, and I still don’t like deleting parts of posts… it just doesnt fit my haphazard style! Anyways, like I said, hope has been a subject under a lot of examination by me over the past while. Even when I didnt realise it, the subject of hope was still invading my life, still turing up in the oddest places, in the most subtle of ways… and in doing so, it has made me think all the more about my own journey toward hope… about what hope truely means, at least for me. You see, hope is defined as confident expectation in the Encyclopedia Britannica. But, isn’t it the nature of all things to have an opposite? Light and dark. Black and white. Faith and doubt. Love and hate (or is it apathy?). Hope… and despair. But then, is dark truly an opposite of light, or merely a absence thereof? Is black an absence of white? Doubt an absence of faith? (with love, we perhaps are not sure whether apathy or hatred fits the bill here, but that is a question for another time). And so, is despair not an absence of hope?

Two days ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to ‘thunks’. Seemingly they are questions which on the surface seem ordinary, trivial… but questions which, when thought about, can make you stop in your tracks and really ponder. Now, that is probably a horrible definition, seeing as I’m going from memory, but you get the general idea… Anyway, it was from this discussion on thunks that she sprung me with a question that has been circling my mind for a long time now: ‘To understand happyness, do we need to have experienced sadness?”

That question, or one very similar, has not only been on my mind for a long time, it has also been infiltrating my life in ways I never expected. Allow me to explain…

Heroes is a television show I fell in love with as soon as I started watching it. It is the secret (or not so secret) dream of every guy, I reckon, to be the hero… every childs secret wish to have superpowers of one sort or another. I mean, think about it… from when we were no age, we have grown up with the teaching that there are heroes and villains. The comic books we read when we were younger, the childrens stories we were told as we headed off to sleep… the TV shows we grew up watching, the movies we went to see, even the stories we were taught in Sunday School (if we went) taught us there were heroes and there were villains (though I find it interesting how in children’s accounts of bible stories, we never hear about the darker side of our heroes lives… with the exception of Jesus, every other bible character has a history we never seem to be told in Sunday School – David is a prime example!). Movies like Aladdin, The Lion King, Fern Gully… TV shows like Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Transformers, Thundercats, Bucky O’Hare… Comic book heroes like Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman… all these things taught us there were people who were good, and people who were bad. It was so clear, so black and white, so easy to understand… it wasn’t until we started growing up that we saw all the different shades of grey colouring our world. One of the first places it became evident for me was actually within myself… knowing what is good, and what is bad, and feeling this intense struggle, this intense battle between the two fighting within… the battle between good and evil, light and dark… black and white… and, inevitably, my actions came out grey. Sometimes I was good, and often I was bad… contrary to what media had taught me in my youth, I was neither a hero of justice nor a supervillain… I was caught annoyingly between the two. Neither hot nor cold… lukewarm, one of the very things the church in revelation was rebuked for…

Now, back to Heroes. Although a truely fantastic show, it too fell into the stereotype in its first two seasons. By the end of season one, we had seen two main characters develop and emerge into the world. One, the hero – standing for justice against all odds, a heart full of love (even his power is based off his ability to empathise with people), overcoming personal doubts and pain to stand for what is right and good and to defend his fellow man. The other, the villain. A character of true malice, of evil, acting out of a thirst for power and significance in the world around him… Light, and dark. Black, and white.

Jump forward to season two, and although situations have changed, the premise remains the same. Our villain, although now powerless, is still exploiting those around him, still murdering, still hunting to regain his power, his significance. Our hero, although technically fighting on the wrong side for a while, is still following after the cause of good, the pursuit of justice. And even then when he is helping the wrong side, it is because he has been tricked into doing so – still believing he is fighting on the side of good, of the side of the light. Yes, Heroes was at this stage still following along to the media status quo.

Jump forward once more, and we are in season three. At the time of writing this post, we are actually only halfway through the season, but the point I hope to make from it is clear from the first few episodes. To avoid spoiling any more of this fantastic series than I already have for those who have yet to see it, I will say only one thing about season 3… the lines become blurred. Black and white becomes a very realistic shade of grey… characters discover within themselves a disturbing truth, one which actually became the title of one of the episodes of the season… they discovered within themselves a duality. The potential for good, and for evil. The ability within themselves to perform acts of utmost heroism, and utmost evil. Essentially, our heroes and villains became humanised… we finally saw in these characters lives the truth which lies in each of us – we are grey.

And when I saw this happening in Heroes, it genuinely shocked me… I loved it, absolutely loved it, but it did shock me… that this theme of duality, of light and dark, ofhope and dispair had followed me all the way to one of my favourite TV programs! And it is still following me, coming up again in the conversation with my friend which I already mentioned… and so to return to that conversation, I now pose that question to you. To understand happyness, to we need to have experienced sadness? To understand hope… to we need to have experienced despair?

There is so much more I would like to say on the topic… I really clould go on and on, listing more examples from my life and friends lives which centre around this very question… but I’m not going to. This is already turning into one of, if not THE longest post of this type I have ever written on here. So instead, I shall finish with, in the way of Jerry Springer, a final thought. I mean, with all this thinking on hope, you also have to ask what the point is. What I mean is, you have to ask what the point is in thinking about hope to begin with… I like to believe hope still has a large part to play in this world. With the world in the state it’s in, with so much of the worlds population below the poverty line, the economic crash, the war in Israel and Gaza… I firmly believe that hope, the hope that Christ preached, can make a difference in the world today. But for those of us who try to help show that hope, perhaps this question that has come up for me time and again is even more significant than we thought. Surely to help people, we need to see things from where they are. To help people, dont we need to stand with them, in the onslaught of fear and pain and despair? To point them in the direction of hope, don’t we need to understand where they are? To truely appreciate all that hope is and what it can do… don’t we need to understand how far it brings us?

For now, I am going to sleep… it is very very late at night right now. But, please, do ponder that with me… and please, do share your thoughts.

Hope, track 7…

Posted in christianity, creative, Foy Vance with tags , , , , on May 20, 2008 by Phil Alcorn

The street was alive with people. Old and young, male and female, everyone bustled about their daily business. The sheer busyness of the place was almost tangible, like a fog that hung in the air, blinding those below it to the existence of anything but the task in hand. The cacophony of sounds that is life in the city centre only served to add to the mayhem. Shop doors opened and closed, engines growled as the cars and buses flew past, ignorant of the pedestrians crossing the street… Snippets of conversations, cries of newspaper sellers, blaring of horns… This was it, this was life in the mainstream.

The man sat quietly in a recess in the wall. Though his legs stretched out into the street in front of him, he was in no danger of being trodden on. He often liked to think of this place as his home… after all, it was where he sat, where he slept, where he lived and breathed and hoped and dreamed. Yes, he liked to think of it as home. It made it easier to believe that the people purposefully walking by the kerbside were not avoiding him, but merely respecting his space. After all, he would never dream of taking a stroll through their living rooms, would he?

With his arm outstreched and his hand open, palm up, it was clear to see this vagabond had not washed in some time. His fingers were grubby and weathered, the rest of his hand hidden by a pair of worn fingerless black gloves. A green jacket hung on his narrow shoulders, over an old wollen jumper. His jeans were torn at the left knee, and had at one time been a bright blue. An old white pair of trainers and a red woollen hat completed his get-up, with his face placed his age as being somewhere mid-thirties. His scruff of a beard, existent more by lack of shaving equipment than an intentional accessory, was a dark ginger, contrastic starkly with his hat. His eyes, green as a fir tree in winter, now watched each person that hurried by, too busy to stop. He watched, trying to make eye contact, trying to catch someone off guard, trying to stir up within people that feeling of sympathy and guilt that wouldn’t let them just walk by and ignore him… though by this stage, it was clear to see from the vacant resignation in his gaze, that he had all but given up on these people. They wouldn’t stop for him, he knew. To them, he was no more than another homeless guy, another figure to be avoided on this busy street, another person worth less than the task at hand. You see, they just think he’s going to take their money and then go and spend it on dope…

A young woman dressed in a navy trouser suit hurried past with a briefcase, looking with great intensity at something across the street that seemed to have just caught her intention. The vagabond sighed slowly to himself. No, he thought, these people didn’t understand… how could they? In the busyness of day to day city centre life, one can’t afford the time to stop and consider the complexities of life of a homeless person… after all, everyone has their own life to lead, why stop and think about the life of another?

Time passed, almost as fast as the people. The vagabond continued to look out at his fellow inhabitants of the city, his mind contemplating that great unsolved phenomenon… So often these days, he found himself thinking about it, of how despite being in the middle of such a crowd, how huge the feeling of lonliness can become. So engrossed was he, in fact, in analysing his own seeming non-existence in this world, his own isolation in a world of company, that he didn’t notice the man who had stopped by his side. No, he didn’t notice him at all, not until the first words were spoken…

A thoroughly unremarkable individual in terms of appearance, this visitor had seemingly arrived from nowhere. Dressed in an ordinary pair of combat trousers and a green t-shirt, he crouched down beside the vagabond, and spoke softly in his ear. The surprise on the vagabond’s face was immediate, turning his head to view this new arrival in bewilderment. The visitor continued to speak, his smile beaming out from his face. Indeed, even his eyes betrayed the happiness he seemed to feel feel inside, shining out and seeming to laugh along with the words he was speaking. After a good number of minutes the visitor, still talking, saw the first few tears forming on the vagabond’s eyes. The look of shock had never left his face, almost as though it was a mask, an emotion frozen in time. The visitor stopped talking for a moment, knowing the vagabond was about to cut in…
“Why?” His gruff voice cracked a little, as the first tear rolled down his cheek, into the wiry strands of his beard… “Why? Look at me, can’t you see what I am, where I am? I lost my job, my family and friends have disowned me… God can’t love me. I’m a lost cause…”
He felt the hopelessness rising up within him once more… Unable to continue, he merely sobbed quietly into his hands. The visitor watched on, the compassion in his eyes so tangible it seemed to almost flow out of him… stretching out an arm, he placed a hand on the vagabond’s shoulder, and gently squeezed. He opened his mouth one final time, and spoke in the same soft, uplifting voice as before…
“Be at peace, my child… Salvation is here today.”

**************************************************

The street was alive with people. Old and young, male and female, everyone bustled about their daily business. The sheer busyness of the place was almost tangible, like a fog that hung in the air, blinding those below it to the existence of anything but the task in hand. The cacophony of sounds that is life in the city centre only served to add to the mayhem. Shop doors opened and closed, engines growled as the cars and buses flew past, ignorant of the pedestrians crossing the street… Snippets of conversations, cries of newspaper sellers, blaring of horns… This was it, this was life in the mainstream. But something was different, something had changed… people were stopping, turning around in the street. The homeless guy, the one everyone tried to ignore, the one who sat quietly in his recess day after day was standing up and shouting out to the world around him…

“Hallelujah!” he cried, “Hallelujah!” Tears were rolling down his face, as unhindered as his shouts. Looking around at the people stopping around him, he continued to call out…
“Hallelujah! Everyone, listen! This man, this man… There’s someone here you gotta meet! Someone you just gotta meet…”

He whirled around, pointing to where the visitor was stood. He looked once more into the face of his new friend, into those compassionate eyes. That same warm smile broke out on the visitor’s face one more time… and he was gone. The vagabond looked in amazement for a few seconds at the spot which had just been emptied of the visitor’s presence, before whirling around again, trying to see where he had disappeared to. Turning on the spot, looking wildly around himself, the crowd began to laugh. He looked up at them, unable to make out their faces now, his vision blurred by the tears still streaming down his face. He stumbled forward, into the crowd itself, still looking for the visitor. He barely noticied the jeers and taunts, the laughter of those around him as he pushed his way down the busy street. Eventually, the people around him continued about their business, losing interest in this clearly delusional man…

Onward he walked, looking around him, wiping away the tears with the sleeve of his jacket. As his vision cleared and he scanned the faces around him, he saw a young woman sitting on the ground, back against the window of a fast-food shop. She was well dressed, wearing a pair of blue designer jeans and expensive looking brown leather boots. Her red shirt was buttoned up just so far as to be a little revealing, and her long, straight black hair had obviously been styled. The vagabond watched as she pulled her knees in towards her, hugging her legs as she stared the the pavement before her. He saw the people hurry past her, not noticing the single tear escape her eye… sympathy welling up inside him, the realisation of all that had happened suddenly hit home. Abandoning his search for the visitor, the search he now knew was fruitless anyway, he walked up to the girl, taking a seat on the ground next to her. She didn’t seem to notice him at first, not until he spoke…

**************************************************

The street was alive with people. Old and young, male and female, everyone bustled about their daily business. The sheer busyness of the place was almost tangible, like a fog that hung in the air, blinding those below it to the existence of anything but the task in hand. The cacophony of sounds that is life in the city centre only served to add to the mayhem. Shop doors opened and closed, engines growled as the cars and buses flew past, ignorant of the pedestrians crossing the street… Snippets of conversations, cries of newspaper sellers, blaring of horns… This was it, this was life in the mainstream. But something was different, something had changed… people were stopping, turning around in the street. The homeless guy, the one everyone tried to ignore, the one who sat quietly in his recess day after day was standing up and shouting out to the world around him… and a girl was with him, some new friend he seemed to have found. The two of them were stood in the street, crying out to those around them…

“Hallelujah! Hallelujah! There’s someone here you we have found!”

**************************************************

The sun was setting as the vagabond walked down the gradual hill towards his destination. He said a little prayer, just to give thanks to God for the view which he beheld; the valley sides illumiunated by the tawny-orange hue of sunset. Not many people were still out and about at this time; in fact, save the vagabond and the man walking along beside him, not a single person was to be seen on this street…

“You’re right…” the vagabond’s companion spoke into the silence. “I don’t think anyone could have expected it… Some have dreamed of it, of course, have been desiring it and praying for it for as long as I can remember, but I doubt anyone woke up this morning and knew it would start today…”

The walked onward a little more, reaching the bottom of the hill and turning into a new street. The companion spoke once more, continuing his thread. “I’ve been praying for it myself, y’know… many nights I would sit in my room, looking out the window at the lights of this city… praying for revival to come…”

They turned in through a gateway, stopping at the door as the vagabond’s companion fumbled in his pocket for his key. The vagabond turned around, looking out at the street before him. The school on the other side of the street stood tall, blocking his view back up the hill they had just descended. Pulling out his keyring, the vagabond’s companion led the way into the house. “I’ll have the kettle on in a jiffy,” he said, gesturing the vagabond towards the sofa in the sitting room to the right. “By the way, I had meant to ask you earlier… The visitor you were telling me about, what exactly did he say to you? Did he tell you his name?”
The vagabond smiled as he moved towards the sofa. “His name… he told me it was Gabriel.”
The vagabond’s companion stopped midstep, halfway to the kitchen. He was well aware of the significance of that name… turning to face the vagabond, he asked again, “What did he say? What was his message?”
The vagabond’s smile broadened, and a laugh escaped his lips… He gave his new companion the answer he sought…

“Hope…”

photos and thoughts…

Posted in christianity, friends, photography, randomness on March 14, 2008 by Phil Alcorn

My good friend James took me on a drive tonight to find a place where our view of the sky was not hindered by the city lights. It’s amazing, you know, just how much light pollution affects the night sky…

Anyway, the reason we went out was because a friend of mine had charged me with taking some photos of the night sky for him. So we set out at 3am to find a suitably dark area in the country somewhere. Eventually we found the perfect spot – the top of the Boghill road just outside Mallusk. We set up the tripod (during which i received a quite painful hand injury!) and took some photos of the stars. Using a shutter speed of 30 seconds, we got some quite nice shots, though it was difficult to get the focus right. After we were satisfied with the results of the sky shooting, we took a couple of shots down over the city lights as well, before heading back to Belfast.

Why tell you all this? Because heading back in the car, a rather interesting metaphor came upon me, and I wanted to record it on here so I will remember it. It struck me how often we pray to God, asking for answers, and wanting to see results right away, instantly. And after a while we grow tired of waiting, and stop looking for the answers. I found an interesting parallel to taking shots of the night sky – with a high shutter speed, you come away with a black photo, hardly any light was allowed into the camera before the shutter closed, sealing the image. However, with a low shutter speed (leaving the shutter open for longer), more light was allowed to flood in, resulting an a clear and beautiful image of the stars in the night sky. How often are we like the first example, the quick shutter speed, looking around for answers to our questions and giving up when we don’t see anything right away. We walk away feeling let down, or disheartened, because God “didn’t answer us”. However, if we were to have patience, hold on as long as it took, keep looking for answers, how much more would we see? How clear the image we would be left with… if we truely waited on GOD’S timing, and not our own.

I could even take this a step further, and look at how much light is let into the camera every second. Not very much, certainly not enough to make a clear image. But as the seconds tick by, the image builds up. Only the same amount of light is let in every second, but the effect of that light makes the image clearer and clearer with each passing second. In the same way, the longer and longer we hold out, actively seeking God, seeking His will, seeking answers, we may not feel like we are seeing more and more as time passes, BUT surely the fact that we are looking and looking and looking will build character and patience within us. The actively waiting on God’s timing will be producing in us a masterpiece of character that God is creating…

Yea, bit of a random post this… I guess the point is just to say to be patient. God will reveal things in His own time, if we are faithful to wait and to look…

new beginning…

Posted in blog, christianity, personality on March 13, 2008 by Phil Alcorn

New look… new post… new name… renewed focus……..

I don’t like the way my blogs have been becoming lately. So I’m making a fresh start… thankful for and learning from the past, and setting off once more. Lots has been changing lately. I’m coming to an end of my year on CU committee… it has been a fantastic experience, full of struggles and joys, challenges and banter… I’m really going to miss it. But, time moves on, and my time there is done. I am thankful for what has been, and will continue to learn from it for a long time to come, I’m sure. And new challenges wait ahead – currently I’m set to get more involved with Exodus (a discipleship and evangelistic organisation here in Northern Ireland) in heading up their visuals team at the new centre in Lisburn.

Really stopping to look back on it, I’m actually amazed at how much has changed over the past year. I never, ever thought I would be where I am now, with the experiences I now have. Man, I never even thought I would be 2 days away from setting off to work for two weeks in a country where Islam is the main religion! But here I am, about to head off to Morocco on Saturday with an organisation called Frontiers…

All of this has got me thinking, and I apologise if this seems disjointed (as all my posts lately seem to have been), about my faith. Just last night, a friend texted me to ask what my faith meant to me, how it was evidenced in my daily life. Seemingly they too have been soul searching, and their question spurred my thoughts onward. You see, lately, in thinking about who I am, what I have done, what I have seen, my faith… I seem to be moving from a place of reasoning and structured theology to a place of love, and (more plainly at this particular moment) of hope. Or maybe that’s not a fair comment to make… I still love discussion and the hashing out of theological ideas and theories, the striving to find answers to the hard questions… but lately, although still present, all that seems to have taken a back seat to issues of (for want of a more coherant phrase) hope. You see, in answering my friend’s question to me, I realised that my faith essentially boils down to three things. I have faith in God; that He exists, cares for me, and is working His will in my life. I have faith in Jesus; that He died for me, and is now risen and at the right hand of God, interceeding on my behalf. I have faith in the Spirit; as my friend and guide, nudging me always to face the right direction. I love those around me (or, at least, I try to – often I fail), I love my friends dearly, as I do my family. I try my best to love my enemies, and try my best to love myself. And, most aptly at this time in my life, I have a hope. I have a hope that God counts me as having worth, despite who I am and what I have done. I have hope that I am able to do GOOD while I am here. I have hope that God forgives me what I have done wrong. And I have hope that all I see in this world is not all that there is…

If I were more awake, I would look at that last paragraph and try to make it sound more coherent. But, once again, I find myself tired yet awake at around 4am. So I think I will conclude…

New look, new name. Renewed focus. Hope – I feel I have been led here. Certainly one or two of my more recent posts have been heading in this direction. My faith, at this time, is about hope. Hope and love, and striving after both.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

a quick note on revelation…

Posted in christianity, church on October 19, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Is more of the book of Revelation being fulfilled before our eyes? I believe it may be…

Peace in Israel… on its way…
http://www.onemillionvoices.org/

favourite person…

Posted in christianity, community, friends, personality, randomness on October 11, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

I just went onto youtube to have a look at a funny video I’d been told about, but instead on the homepage I came across a video title that spiked my interest. It was called ‘are you anybody’s favourite person?’, and was a vlog about a girl who had just seen the movie short ‘Are You The Favourite Person Of Anybody?’. She was trying to think if she was anybody’s favourite person, and had come to the conclusion that she wasn’t. Have a look at the two videos there, they kinda set up what I’m about to say…

Needless to say, this got my thinking the same question about myself… am I anybody’s favourite person? I mean, even now, while I think about it, part of me doesn’t think it’s important, but part of me does… Thinking about it, out of my whole life, all the people I’ve met and interacted with, would I actually be anybody’s favourite person?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I would be. With the whole span of someones life, I’m fairly confident that all the people I have met would have had time to meet someone far better than me in their lives…

I’ve just caught myself on before I go and list things about myself negatively… that isn’t what this is about. I like myself, most of the time. Yes, there are things about myself I’m not happy with. Yes, I’ve made a LOT of mistakes in the past. Yes, I’ve hurt a lot of people. But I’m also fairly confident I’ve had a good impact on people too. And I also happen to like who God is shaping me to be.

All that being said, I still can’t think of anybody that would see me as their favourite person. But thinking more about it (seeing as I’m writing this blog less than 5 minutes after I viewed those videos) I don’t think it actually matters. Sure, I may not be anybody’s favourite person… does that mean I should stop being who I am? Does that mean I should stop trying to love people as God loves them? Does that mean I’ve failed?
No, I don’t think it does… I think it means that I can’t see the impact I have made on people. The reason I don’t think I’m anyone’s favourite person is because I can’t think of anyone who I have made a positive enough impact on the life of, that they would call me their favourite person.

Take, for instance, me thinking of MY favourite person… Taking into account all of my life, all my experiences… I honestly can’t narrow it down to one person. There are favourite people dotted along the way, people who have been major influences and favourites at different stages and different times… even thinking about right now, over the past year… even thinking about the course of a DAY, favourite people can change, as new experoences are made and people are used in your life for certain experiences at certain times… some people make an impact, and then fade away into the recesses of memory. That doesn’t make the impact they had on me any less significant, any less important. Doesn’t make them any less of a favourite. Some people have just always been there, helping me grow, teaching me things, laughing and crying with me, sharing the banter and the struggles… they are all favourites in their own right. Some people are new, and who knows what time holds… but experiences are shared, and new favourites are born, joining the ranks of the hundreds already present.

And the crazy thing is, these masses of favourite people probably have no idea how much of a favourite each of them are to me. Because I simply haven’t told them, I guess… perhaps I should, the ones I can still tell…

As for people who are now gone, from life, or merely from MY life, I’m sure they have gone having no idea how much they impacted me, shaped me… how God used them to make and mould me into the guy I am. But they are no less my favourite people…

So in conclusion, for this has indeed been a somewhat unorganised ramble through my thoughts, I may not be anybody’s favourite person, that I can think of… but whether I am or not, it doesn’t really matter. My life is no less significant for it. And even I don’t know the impact I have made on others, as others don’t know the impact they have made on me. I guess the important thing is not to worry about if you’re somebody else’s favourite person or not… it’s to make sure you love those around you, regardless. Because y’know what? Love has no favourites.